Friday, March 13, 2009

Debbie Ference on the OMHSAS Meeting

On Tuesday, March 10, our Executive Director Chris Michaels and I attended the Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS) Committees in Harrisburg.

What a surprise! At the meeting, my good friend from college, Beth Defibaugh (pictured to the right of me below), was present. Beth and I have not seen each other for 18 years! It was certainly good to catch up and talk about the state of the mental health system as Beth currently works for OMHSAS as a Human Services Program Specialist.

The meeting was very informative. Joan Erney, Deputy Secretary of OMHSAS in the Department of Public Welfare, presented the state budget and explained the impact on current programs and services.

It was interesting to learn about OMHSAS's objectives for the next fiscal year: expand the incident reporting process using Root Cause Analysis, implement D&A Coalition recommendations, develop technical assistance for Mental Health Procedures Act and develop a statewide communication strategy/implement Network of Care.

Some statistics on Service Area Planning:
During fiscal year 07/08, 719 people were discharged from the state hospitals (excluding Mayview).

Consumer Support Plans (CSPs) were developed for 123 (17 percent) of these people.

Readmission rates of those discharged without a CSP was 5.1 percent. The rate of readmission was only.4 percent for those discharged with a CSP.

These statistics reinforce the value and importance of a CSP in sustaining a person's discharge and ultimately their recovery.

For a synopsis of OMHSAS's mental health budget, email

--Debbie Ference
Associate Director
NAMI Southwestern Pennsylvania